Roamin' Catholic

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Celibacy for Conservative Clerics?

The restorationist Catholic rant goes something like this… "Damn those liberal “Vatican II” priests with their disdain for Church disciplines like celibacy, they are the first to drop their vows when facing the temptations of flesh..."

In the face of such critique, I have a spontaneous (not willed, ergo not morally culpable) unholy delight when it’s an established and highly praised "JPII" priest who breaks ranks.

A couple years ago it was the Pious Francis Mary Stone, a veritable fixture at Mother Angelica’s EWTN. He was a wildly (as wild it gets at EWTN) popular preacher and host of “Life on the Rock”. Then suddenly he was gone. Fr. Francis Mary had taken time off to meditate on his relationship with a widow (and her child) that he had been “counseling”. All network supporters were asked to pray that Fr. Francis Mary might return to his senses and to EWTN. Alas, at last report Fr. Francis is now just plain “Dave.” David Stone is working at making a living through sales and motivational speaking.

Most recently, the charismatic Latino priest from Miami, Fr. Alberto Cutie’, was caught by paparazzi at the beach in the embrace of a divorced woman. Since, with the Miami Diocese’s blessing, Fr. Cutie was a television celebrity in Miami and throughout Latin American, this story was widely covered in the Latino media.

Fr. Cutie revealed that he had been in a relationship with the woman, Ruhmana, for a couple years. To Miami Bishop Favolora’s chagrin, not only did Cutie not repent. He went and married Ruhmana, and was welcomed by the Episcopalian bishop to become an Episcopal priest.

Less amusing have been the stories about Fr. Marcial Marciel Degollado. He was the founder of the reactionary Legionnaires of Christ, a new religious order that enjoyed the favor of Pope John Paul II. Since the founder’s death, the Legion has had to admit that their “holy” founder had at least one mistress, fathered a child, and may have embezzled money from the Legion to live his double life. Additionally, the Legion gave credence to the claims of several former Legion seminarians who charged they were sexually abused by Marcial. John Paul II put the brakes on any investigation of Marcial during his years as pontiff.

Pope Benedict XVI has called this coming year (starting June 19th) to be the Year of the Priest. The US Council of Catholic Bishops is now convening in San Antonio. Maybe it would be a good time to give the celibate male discipline a fresh look, for the sake the Church overall – whether leaning to “Vatican II” or “JPII” camps.